After losing all of the 2013 season with a broken leg, running back Dion Lewis is back and ready to compete for carries.
BEREA, Ohio -- During training camp last summer, Cleveland Browns running back Dion Lewis stood out as one of the surprise players who could make an impact for the team in the regular season.
But as quickly as Lewis burst onto the scene was about as fast as his opportunity went by the boards, courtesy of a broken leg suffered in a preseason game last August.
Although Lewis lost all of the 2013 season, he attacked his rehabilitation and is back competing on the field in this year's training camp.
"(I) feel great," Lewis said after a recent practice. "Yeah, it was frustrating, but at the same time, (I've) got to take care of my body and just use it to get better.
"I feel like I'm right there. (In the) offseason, I studied a lot. I was hard in my book and made sure I knew the offense inside and out, so I know that. I'm comfortable now. It definitely is a whole different system, but we're out here competing. Everybody has a chance, so I'm just out here making the most of my opportunities."
Now in his second season with the Browns, Lewis is working under his second head coach, Mike Pettine, and offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, but feels all he has to do is "work hard" to show the staff what he can bring to the team.
"My confidence never went down," Lewis said. "I just rehabbed hard, and I worked hard in this offseason to learn this playbook and I'm comfortable now, so (I've) just got to do whatever the coaches ask of you and take coaching kindly and just keep pushing."
Lewis had to work hard on studying the playbook in the offseason because he was held out of on-field work to avoid reinjuring his surgically repaired leg. However, he got a quick reintroduction to the game, as despite being told not to tackle to the ground, Lewis was twice taken down during Tuesday's practice.
Some of Lewis' teammates took exception to the tackles, and later, a fight ensued between offensive and defensive players.
"Everybody's competing," Lewis said. "When everybody's competing, it's going to get a little heated. It's all fun. It's nothing personal. Everybody's just out there playing hard, and when you're playing hard, you want to beat the guy in front of you, so that's all that is.
"Every day, our defense is going to come out physical. We know that, so as running backs, you've just got to defend yourself and be physical back. You can't let them push you around, so whenever you get a chance to be physical, you've just got to be physical and take the fight to them."
During the offseason, the Browns added running back Ben Tate (5-foot-10, 220 pounds) and Isaiah Crowell (5-11, 225) through free agency and Terrance West (5-10, 225) via a third-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Although there are more running backs in the competition for the starting spot, and carries in general, Lewis (5-8, 195) welcomes the increased competition.
"I'm a lot different than those guys," Lewis said. "They're bigger than me and stronger. I'm more of a quick guy, make you miss and I think that's what separates myself.
"Every year since I've been in the NFL -- this is my fourth year -- there's always been eight running backs in camp, and every year, I've been competing with the best of them, so having more backs, that's just more motivation to just compete. No matter where you go, they're going to bring in guys to replace you every year. That's how the NFL is."